Are there any Eric Hoffer fans in the house? The True Believer? The Ordeal of Change?
I can tell exactly when I heard of Eric Hoffer because a book review on Slashdot (remember Slashdot?) casually quoted him:
'Prechter quotes philosopher Eric Hoffer: When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.' https://science.slashdot.org/story/03/09/18/0416205/socionomics-the-science-of-history-and-social-prediction
Reading him as a young student and recognizing one's True Believer ass in his words about Nazis & Communists was awful & cathartic. I was reborn.
Hoffer wasn't a philosopher. Except in the way that a bartender or a priest or, in Hoffer's case, a fruit picker and dockworker with a penchant for Montaigne could be:
Some friends and I were obsessed with his analyses of the fascist and totalitarian movements that had ruined his generation and slaughtered a hundred million before they fell.
I don't think any of us would have guessed that we'd need his words to navigate the world again going mad fifteen years later.
I was raised religious—if you look up my name, you can probably guess the details, but, we were the chosen people, with truths, revealed long ago and protected and nurtured. We knew how to live justly and what came after death. We knew how the world would end. We were special. I was special.
Eric Hoffer, this middle-aged man whose first book was published when he was in his fifties, describing to his fellow Americans after WW2 how the Nazis and Communists felt, described to me how I felt.
@22 I never heard of him but a friend called me this morning looking for things to read on the rise of fascism, so thank you. (I thought of Masha Gessen. Now need to compare what Gessen and Hoffer thought, I guess.)
@clew let me know. I have front-row seats to fascist radicalization, having family members into racist authoritarian conspiracy theories 😋, and wish my only contact with that trash came through books.